Women commonly report seeking abortion in order to achieve personal life goals. Few studies have investigated whether an abortion enables women to achieve such goals.
Data are from the Turnaway Study, a prospective cohort study of women recruited from 30 abortion facilities across the US. The sample included women in one of four groups: Women who presented for abortion just over the facility’s gestational limit, were denied an abortion and went on to parent the child (Parenting Turnaways, n = 146) or did not parent (Non-Parenting Turnaways, n = 64), those who presented just under the facility’s gestational limit and received an abortion (Near-Limits, n = 413) and those who presented in the first trimester and received an abortion (First Trimesters, n = 254). Participants were interviewed by telephone one week, six months and one year after they sought an abortion. We used mixed effects logistic regression to assess the relationship between receiving versus being denied abortion and having an aspirational one year goal and achieving it.
The 757 participants in this analysis reported a total of 1,304 one-year plans. The most common one-year plans were related to education (21.3 %), employment (18.9 %), other (16.3 %), and change in residence (10.4 %). Most goals (80 %) were aspirational, defined as a positive plan for the next year. First Trimesters and Near-Limits were over 6 times as likely as Parenting Turnaways to report aspirational one-year plans [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 6.37 and 6.56 respectively, p < 0.001 for both]. Among all plans in which achievement was measurable (n = 1,024, 87 %), Near-Limits (45.6 %, AOR = 1.91, p = 0.003) and Non-Parenting Turnaways (47.9 %, AOR = 2.09, p = 0.026) were more likely to have both an aspirational plan and to have achieved it than Parenting Turnaways (30.4 %).
These findings suggest that ensuring women can have a wanted abortion enables them to maintain a positive future outlook and achieve their aspirational life plans.